Improving the formation of protective immunity against human viruses

Bio21 Molecular Science and Biotechnology Institute
Primary Supervisor Email Number Webpage
Prof Jose Villadangos

Summary The Villadangos group studies the first event that triggers adaptive immune responses: the presentation of pathogen or tumour antigens to T cells by Dendritic Cells, B cells and Macrophages. We are characterizing the development, regulation and impairment of antigen presenting cells by pathogens, inflammatory mediators and tumours. We are also dissecting the biochemical machinery involved in antigen capture, processing and presentation. We use this knowledge to understand how T cell-dependent immunity is initiated and maintained, and apply it to design better vaccines and immunotherapies against infectious agents and cancer.

Project Details

CD4+ helper T cells underpin the generation of life-long protective immunity against infectious disease. They are pivotal for activating CD8+ killer T cells and driving B cell production of neutralising antibodies, which are both required to recover from and prevent infection. However, the CD4+ T cells that are activated following infection are not generally assessed in studies of vaccine efficacy and/or protective immunity. In addition to established functions of effector CD4+ T cells in driving immune memory is an emerging role for regulatory T cells (Tregs), which until now have been under-appreciated in this context. Tregs, in addition to their critical role in maintaining self-tolerance, are important in limiting immunopathology following infection. Further, evidence from mouse studies suggests Tregs are crucial for the generation of memory T cells and also control the homing of immune cells into infected tissues. However, it remains unknown if these are also key functions for human Tregs. This project will investigate the mechanisms of how human Tregs shape immune memory responses using cutting-edge technology including organoid co-culture, gene editing, functional cellular assays and spectral cytometry. Data from this project will form a foundation for designing more efficacious treatment and prevention strategies for infectious diseases.

School Research Themes

Cell Signalling

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact a supervisor.

Research Node

Bio21 Molecular Science and Biotechnology Institute

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